Tuesday, January 28, 2014

January 27, 2014

Hi family!

This week was really good!  I continue to learn more and more every week and it's so crazy how fast the time flies.  Sister Gonzales and I both had our 9 month mark and I am so baffled about how I am at this point already.  I am really working to make every day count because it goes way, way too fast! 

The weather has been really cold this week and we didn't have a car.  Every day took a ton of faith and diligence to get out there and work, but the Lord definitely blesses us!  I have been listening to this talk lately from Elder Holland and it kind of puts things into perspective:
"We flew to our destination for a few hours in a modern jet airliner rather than sailing for weeks, even months, in the steerage of a ship. I did not leave suffering with chills and fever, cholera, or consumption, although I did have a cold and one leg of our flight was delayed an hour. I have hoped these hardships would qualify me to one day face Peter and Paul, Brigham and Wilford."

Sure, there are times when it is really hard to find new investigators and no one will talk to us because they don't want cold air in their houses, but we really are so blessed in our missionary work.  Our ward mission leader told us this week about his insight (I think he quoted Elder Bednar) on Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Faith is a principle of looking back and remembering the tender mercies of God, looking forward and choosing to work and be obedient, and acting in the present to accomplish the work of the Lord.  I really like this...the assurance of things hoped for=looking forward to the future and having an assurance things will work out.  The evidence of things not seen=the ability to look back and see the hand of the Lord in your life.  I thought about it a ton this week.  We have seen so many tender mercies that it is impossible to NOT have faith in Christ!  We are still struggling to find new people to teach and to have progressing investigators, but I know with our patience and diligence, we will be blessed.

I got a call this week asking me to give a talk in church on Sunday.  I was really excited for the opportunity and thought it was especially cool since dad was giving a talk in Colorado!  I was given the talk "The Lord's Way" by Stanley G. Ellis.  Boy oh boy, I LOVED this talk so much. I think the main reason is that we always hear people say "they are looking for a church that fits their lifestyle."  It drives me nuts, because the purpose of the church and the gospel are to fit us to live in heaven again.  We should be changing our lifestyles to fit God's standards!  I shared my thoughts and different examples of people in the scriptures who follow the Lord's way (especially found in 1 Nephi 18:1-4).  I also shared the devastating piano recital experience when I butchered “Moonlight Sonata” and started crying.  I related it to the piano teacher's way of practicing and memorizing music vs. my way of not practicing and hoping for the best and we all got to see what happened.  I think people liked it.  The ward here is so supportive and they even laughed at my corny jokes, so bless them.  I guess I was really excited to give my talk because my companions said I started reciting it in my sleep the night before.  The funniest part is that I started off the talk by saying "I would like to thank Brother Winder (our WML) for being here!"  We invited a ton of investigators and less-actives to come to the talk and then there was a huge snowstorm on Sunday morning so the sacrament meeting attendance was very sparse.  I was disappointed, as I thought it was a message they could use, but I know it wasn't anything we could have changed.

Probably the highlight of this week was teaching Sandy.  We know she has been having problems with her finances and health lately so we told her about priesthood blessings and she really wanted one.  Brother Winder came to the lesson and the spirit was very strong.  She told us of the things she is struggling with--namely, a crossroads at her faith.  She believes everything we are teaching her, but it is so hard for her to leave the church her daughter loves and has such a foundation in.  The blessing Brother Winder gave was so beautiful and we all felt so much love for Sandy from our Heavenly Father.  She is progressing, slowly but surely, but I know as she continues to read the Book of Mormon and pray, she will know what she needs to do.

Rita wasn't able to meet last week due to some health issues and her father-in-law’s passing, but we are excited to meet with her this week and teach her the plan of salvation! 

Jaszzameen has been going through some hard times recently--she found out she has to have another knee surgery.  That's #11 for her.  We love her so much but this recent health issue has caused her progression to come to a halt so we might have to wait to continue teaching her.  That's a brief update on people in the area.  I love them so very much and I feel so privileged to serve them!

Sister Dixon

Sunday, January 26, 2014

January 20, 2014

Hi family!

Thanks for your e-mails.  We are able to e-mail from the Family History Center today which is a huge blessing because the libraries are closed here as well.  I am getting quite accustomed to the Family History Center because we have had some huge success with the family history approach!  It definitely softens people’s hearts and allows the spirit of temple work to touch them in a way that prepares for the restoration to be taught.  We feel very blessed with that and we have a few appointments with people to do family history with them this week so I hope it goes well. 

We have experienced some huge miracles.  It all started with going on exchanges earlier this week.  I got to go back to MSU and it was really amazing!  Sister Gonzales and I worked with Sister Richardson and I learned so much from her, namely about faith.  Sister Richardson showed me a talk by Elder Bednar that has seriously CHANGED MY LIFE and the way I think about faith!  http://www.lds.org/broadcasts/article/ces-devotionals/2013/01/that-we-might-not-shrink-d-c-19-18?lang=eng
True faith is accepting the will of the Lord, no matter what happens.  Sometimes I get in the mindset that if I have enough faith, miracle after miracle will happen.   When those huge miracles don't happen, I doubt my faith and often think "If only I had enough faith, this and this would have happened."  Sister Richardson taught me there is so much more to faith.  In this talk, Elder Bednar speaks of how he was going to give someone a blessing of healing and comfort.  Usually I think "Do I have enough faith to be healed?"  But here is an excerpt of the talk that really taught me a ton:  "[Elder Bednar] then posed questions I had not planned to ask and had never previously considered: ‘[John,] do you have the faith not to be healed? If it is the will of our Heavenly Father that you are transferred by death in your youth to the spirit world to continue your ministry, do you have the faith to submit to His will and not be healed?’”
I learned that true faith is saying "Will I still have faith God is there even if I don't receive the blessings I have asked for?  Will I still have faith in God's plan for me?"  It really has changed my outlook and has helped me to learn how to really, fully trust in what God has in store for me.  I am still working on my faith, and I know faith does produce miracles, but this new and abiding sense of trust has helped me so much with the work.  This kind of faith makes me think of Alma and Amulek in Alma 14.  They had the deepest faith as they had to watch the women and children and scriptures in the fire.  They could have prevented it with their power from God, but they knew the most important kind of faith is to trust in God's plan. 

Here are a few miracles this week:

I don't remember if I told you about meeting Rita at the library.  I think I did.  But anyway, Rita came to church this last week!  It was really amazing.  Our bishop got up and started off by saying "I don't know if all of you know this, but the clergy of this church do not get paid.  We serve God without getting money in return.  We have other jobs, but we serve the members of this church to serve God."  Rita told us afterwards she has been looking for a church where the clergy do their jobs for free.  How cool!!!  We know that Rita was led to us at the library and that Bishop Bartlett was inspired.  It was really awesome.  The other talk in sacrament meeting was about the temple, and Rita told us she feels that is where she needs to go to work out some difficulties in her life right now.  We told her we can prepare her to go there and she is really excited to learn more about the gospel!  We are really excited and so blessed!

Brother Fowler gave a talk on Sunday and invited some of his friends to come and listen.  One of them is a man named Kevin and his wife,Yolanda.  They are both from China, and Kevin has met with missionaries before.  He had a baptismal date, but then he unexpectedly had to go to China and the missionary discussions discontinued.  We got to talk to him and his wife after sacrament meeting and they are interested in learning more!  What a huge blessing that is and it definitely shows the power of member missionary work!

Last, a lady in our ward called us this week with a referral for her neighbor, Debi.  Debi has been going through some hard times recently and is really open to having us come and teach more about the gospel and help her sort things out.  We are going over later this week and I am just overwhelmed by how many people are being prepared and how many blessings we have been almost bombarded with.  The Lord truly is in this work!!

Our companionship is doing well.  We love each other, we love the work, and we love the Lord.  It makes for a pretty good time!  I love you all and you are in my thoughts and prayers!

Sister Dixon

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Shoveling snow with Sisters Flora (left) and Gonzales (right)
January 13, 2014

Hi family!

Thanks for sending me wonderful letters, even when I didn't get the chance to write you back last week.  I am going to try to update you on everything from the last 2 weeks . . . hopefully I don't leave anything out!

What a whirlwind couple of weeks.  It has been amazing here.  Frigid, but amazing.  I love my new companions so much!  Sister Gonzales is my co-trainer.  She is from California and we have been out the same amount of time.  She has a very calming and peaceful attitude and I love working with her.  Sister Flora is our trainee.  Sister Flora is an absolute joy to work with.  She has the happiest bubbliest attitude and is truly on a mission for the right reasons!  She is from St. George, so the weather is a bit of a shock for both of my companions.  It's a shock to me too, so I can only imagine how freezing they must be.  Poor Sister Flora arrived here on like the worst weekend too!  But she has been really positive throughout the whole thing so I am really impressed. 

As far as the weather goes, it has been a little bit crazy.  We had a huge snowstorm last Sunday and then Monday morning it got down to -30 degrees with the wind chill.  Our P-day was "canceled" so we had to stay in the apartment for the day which was nice and relaxing.  We got a call at 4 that said we were allowed to go out and we had to get our P-day activities done before 6.  It was pretty stressful but we decided grocery shopping was more important than e-mailing so sorry I wasn't able to write last week.  Tuesday was pretty cold as well.  We weren't allowed to be out tracting that day.  Members kept sending us texts that said stuff like, "The life expectancy outside right now is 10 minutes!  Don't you dare go out!"  It made us pretty freaked out.  So we visited members and less-actives, but after that it's all been back to normal.  I did start noticing my toes were hurting pretty badly though and turning red and the skin was turning thick.  I had a member look at it and he said I had a mild case of trench foot.  If you want to be sick, you should Google pictures of it.  Mine isn't very bad at all and it's starting to get better because I caved and bought some winter boots (thanks grandma and grandpa for the Christmas money!) but it's kind of a fun battle wound from the cold weather.  It's started to warm up a little bit and we figure if we can survive last weekend, then we can survive the rest of winter easy-peasy.

The work has been good to us.  We are still trying to find new investigators, but I have faith it will happen this week!  Our mission president told us we should start using family history more in our area since it is a more wealthy area.  Our ward mission leader made these awesome pass-along cards with family history fan charts on them so we have been introducing those to people and offering to teach them how to make them and the doctrine behind family history.  People are much more open to that so we are excited to see the miracles that will come from it!  Also we may have found a Chinese family to teach, so you can only imagine how beyond excited I am for that. 

We had a little miracle happen that really showed how God's hand is in the work.  We got permission to go to the library later that week so Sister Flora could e-mail her mom and let her know she is alive!  As she was sitting at her computer, she asked to see Sister Gonzales's name tag so she could make sure she spelled her name correctly.  The lady sitting next to her asked about the name tag and said she took lessons from missionaries in Nigeria.  Sister Flora invited her to come to church and learn more and she accepted!  I was sitting in a chair close by and reading my scriptures as we were waiting for Sister Flora, and it was really amazing to watch the whole thing unfold! People are being prepared, and God prepares a way for us to find them and for them to find us. 

Our investigators are progressing slowly but surely.  Jaszzameen hasn't been able to come to church these past 2 weeks but hopefully this week she can.  The weather is really bad for her joints because she had double knee replacement surgery a while back.  We watched the Joseph Smith movie with her this week because she still doesn't know if Joseph Smith is a prophet.  She was amazed at how much opposition he faced.  It really made me think of how much I have taken Joseph Smith for granted.  He sacrificed so much.  His trials and sacrifices always make the work here seem a little easier.  I know that strengthened her testimony, but keep her in your prayers!

The word "truth" has been on my mind this week.  It all sparked from reading John 8. 

32 And ye shall aknow the btruth, and the ctruth shall make youdfree.

Ultimately, everyone on earth is searching for the truth.  Every person in this world, whether they realize it or not, is searching for that thing that will set them free from the trials and the burdens of this mortal life.  This led me to another scripture in Alma 9. 

26 And anot many days hence the Son of God shall come in hisbglory; and his glory shall be the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of cgrace, equity, and truth, full of patience, dmercy, and long-suffering, quick to ehear the cries of his people and to answer their prayers.

Christ is FULL of TRUTH.  His is the message every person is searching for.  Christ is the only person who is able to set us free.  When we know Christ, we have a chance at liberty in this life as well as eternal life in the world to come (John 17:3).  I am really grateful for leaders in the Church who have encouraged me to find truth for myself.  I know the search for truth is the most important quest we can be on in this life.  I know my search for truth has led me to know this is the only true and living church upon the face of this earth.  I know the Book of Mormon is true as well.  Finding these bits of truth truly has made me free! 
Sorry this is probably all over the place, but I love you all!  Have a wonderful week!

Sister Dixon

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Holding Br. Ericson's copy of her grandpa's book
December 30, 2013

Helloooo family!

Dang I am sad President Hess already told you I am training.  I wanted to be the first to break the news that I am "pregnant" as they say here, but the cat’s out of the bag already.  I am really excited for this opportunity!  So Sister Gonzales and I will be co-training the new sister--I am staying in a trio this next transfer!  That makes 8 companions and I am not even halfway through my mission!  Crazy!  I love getting to serve with new people, though.  I know I will learn a ton from Sister Gonzales and the new sister.  Sister Gonzales and I came out together.  She is a visa waiter as well and we are going to the same mission in Brazil.  We were in different districts at the MTC so I don't know her super well but we got to talk a little bit on the plane ride over here.  She has been at Battle Creek her whole mission so this will be a change for her but I think it will be tons of fun.  I am dropping off Sister Kaegi (she is going to St. Joseph's) and Sister Anson (she is going to Battle Creek) this afternoon, spending the rest of P-day with the MSU sisters, and then picking up Sister Gonzales tonight.  We will pick up our greenie on Thursday. 

It was so good to talk to you all this week.  I loved Christmas time SO much.  I loved getting to visit those who were lonely and sad around this season.  It surprised me how many people are all alone during the holidays--it was heartbreaking.  Our thoughts were often turned to Christ, as He is one person who knows what it feels like to be alone.  Even in the darkest moments of loneliness and grief, we can turn to our Lord and Savior who is there to console us and be by our side.  We sang Christmas hymns to people and talked about the birth of Christ.  It was all very uplifting and I was so grateful for the opportunity to be a disciple of Christ at this time of year. 

One miracle that happened this week is we finally set a date with Jaszzameen!!!  We have been trying and trying because she knows all of it is true, but each time she gets very defensive and tells us not to push her.  It was such a miracle we were able to set a goal this time, but I know it was because the Spirit was so strong.  The member who was at the lesson with us bore the most powerful testimony of how her baptism has blessed her life and how she knows the Book of Mormon is true.  It was so beautiful!  We set a date of February 8, which is the last Saturday of this transfer, so I am excited to get her ready for that day. 

The ice is pretty much gone now.  But it's supposed to get really cold this week and we lose our car on Wednesday.  It might be a rough couple of first days for the new missionary.  Poor girl.  Power is almost back—there are still a few people without it.  They said headlamps have been lifesavers--but hard to have conversations with each other, haha.

Other than that there isn't too much more to report on.  Thanks for giving me the most uplifting Christmas phone call and for being the most wonderful family!  I am so grateful to spend eternity with you all!  Keep me in your prayers this week that training will go well and that we can find new families to teach.  If you could fast for us to find new investigators as well that would be so amazing!

Have a great new year!  Love you all!

Sister Dixon